According to a report from Russian journalist Igor Lazonin, which was later confirmed by MMAJunkie, former multi-time UFC flyweight title challenger Joseph Benavidez is scheduled to make his return to the octagon on March 6 at UFC 259 in a pivotal bout against No. 3-ranked Askar Askarov.
The 36-year-old Joseph Benavidez has long been considered to be one the best flyweights on the planet, but he’s also had quite a rough year, as he’s coming off of back-to-back stoppage losses to current champion Deiveson Figueiredo. The two first met in February when the Brazilian scored a second-round TKO victory and then again in a rematch in July, which turned out to be even more-sided and ended with a dominant first-round submission win for Figueiredo.
Prior to his losses against Figueiredo, Benavidez had won three-straight bouts against the likes of Alex Perez, Dustin Ortiz, and Jussier Formiga. Although he’s in a tough spot having twice lost to the champion, a win over Askarov would certainly keep him in the mix.
The 28-year-old Askarov, a native of Dagestan, made his UFC debut in 2019 and has gone 2-0-1, as he fought to a split draw against current title challenger Brandon Moreno in his debut before scoring back-to-back unanimous decision victories over Tim Elliot and Alexandre Pantoja. Prior to signing with the UFC, Askarov had compiled a perfect 10-0 record that included 10 finishes.
While this fight is incredibly important for Benavidez, it also has major implications for Askarov, as a win over the former title challenger could warrant him a title shot.
UFC 259 currently does not have a date, location, or venue, but it will stream on pay-per-view on ESPN+.